In Japanese eating culture, holding chopsticks improperly might be frowned upon (see: Proper Way to Hold Chopsticks), but how does it compare to that other notorious dinner table offense, chomping down on your food with your mouth open?
According to denizens of Japanese message board site 2channel, who recently discussed the matter in depth, noisily eating your food is a far graver crime than poor chopstick handling. Let’s take a close look at their discussion below.
First we should note that in Japan, the slurping soup or noodles is not included in the arena of eating noisily. Quite the opposite: slurping your udon or soba noodles at the dinner table is a tip of the hat to the chef, and with every slurp you are saying, “these noodles are amazing get in my mouth now.”
Instead, we are talking about the sound of food being tossed around and chewed in your mouth, covered in your saliva as you soften it up for digestion. A process which does not need to be audible, as we’re sure you’ll agree.
So which is worse: poor chopstick handling or eating with your mouth open? Here are what Japanese netizens had to say.
・”Definitely noisy eating is worse”
・”Not being able to hold your chopsticks right is laughable, noisy eating is not”
・”Noisy eating must be terminated”
・”Noisy eating is unbearable”
・”When a person eats noisily it is like their mouth goes slack”
・”My parents eat noisily. It’s horrible”
・”I don’t like noisy eating”
・”I can’t stand that sound”
・”No question about it, noisy eating is worse”
・”Noisy eating shouldn’t be allowed”
・”It’s dirty and offensive”
And so on…
It looks like noisy eating wins, no contest. Which is understandable. You can’t hear a person using their chopsticks wrong unless they’re drumming on the table with them. Eating with your mouth open is far less easy to ignore.
However, most people seem to unanimously frown upon poor chopstick holding as well. ”It makes a person’s upbringing questionable when you see them holding their chopsticks wrong,” comments one. Many people agree that they don’t want to sit with someone who can’t use chopsticks properly. Chopstick holding is an important part of eating properly, only not so noticeable.
It has also been observed that these days, many foreigners can hold their chopsticks better than Japanese people. Did you hear that guys!? “You’re very good at using chopsticks!“
It looks like being well-mannered in Japan means eating quietly and using your chopsticks correctly. It is probably safe to say that nobody outside of a noodle shop likes a noisy eater.
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